We have learned from multiple sources inside the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the powerful union that represents LASD’s deputies, that they will not be endorsing any candidate for the sheriff’s race until after the primary election in June.
The importance of an endorsement by the deputies’ union—which is commonly known as ALADS—goes well beyond the vote of confidence that an endorsement conveys. In most cases, it also means that the chosen candidate also receives a sizable campaign donation.
And how large a donation are we talking about?
According to sources close to the endorsement process, a candidate for public office—especially a candidate for the office of Los Angeles County Sheriff—could potentially receive between $1 million to $2.5 million for his or her campaign coffers.
In other words, ALADS could plunk down a pile of cash big enough to be a game changer.
The endorsement process for the office of sheriff began on February 19 at a special ALADS forum where six out of the seven candidates for the LASD’s top job gave their pitches and fielded questions.
After the forum, the deputies had just under two weeks to cast their ballots for the candidate they thought the union ought to support.
In order to trigger an automatic endorsement, one candidate has to get at least 50 percent of the rank-and-file’s vote.
For some years it was thought that undersheriff Paul Tanaka was nearly a lock for the ALADS endorsement, along with a healthy chunk of their campaign money. [Here is WLA's coverage on the issue of Tanaka an the union money.]
But when on March 10, the ALADS Political Endorsement Committee tabulated the the 890 votes cast by union members, no single candidate received the needed 50 percent.
(Only about 12 percent of the more than 7200 deputy membership usually votes.)
Some committee members were surprised to find that department outsider Long Beach police chief Jim McDonnell took first place in the straw poll, especially considering that Paul Tanaka had produced such a large and enthusiastic group of supporters at the candidates’ forum, and seemed to be lobbying the hardest for the campaign money.
The details of the vote count was as follows:
Jim McDonnell – 203
Paul Tanaka – 184
Bob Olmsted – 168
Todd Rogers – 163
Jim Hellmold – 144
Pat Gomez – 26
Lou Vince – 2
Even without a majority, the endorsement committee could conceivably have voted to give an endorsement anyway—to whomever they deemed the best choice, (subject to approval of the ALADS board of directors). But the committee members decided not to do so.
POWER STRUGGLE AT THE UNION
Meanwhile, in related news, a power struggle among the union’s board members has resulted in ALADS’ board president being replaced four times in the past week or so. (It may be five times by the time you read this. We’re losing count.)
This game of musical chairs among union executives was first reported by the LA Times last week, after the union issued an announcement stating that the board had removed ALADS president, Armando Macias, because Macias had not attended the requisite number of a certain kind of union meetings, as required in the ALADS’ by-laws.
But then Macias, who had replaced, former ALADS president, Floyd Hayhurst, evidently arrived at a meeting mid-week and declared that he was indeed the legal president and proceeded to run the meeting.
On Friday, however, the Macias-ousting part of the board issued another statement announcing that yet another board member, Don Steck, was taking over as the interim president.
Then on Sunday the Macias supporters among the seven-person board released a new statement saying that Macias was the legal president, and would remain in office.
That spin of the merry-go-round is very unlikely to be the last, sources tell us.
We only mention the matter because there has reportedly been some speculation among ALADS members that one or the other of these factions might be hoping to steer a large portion of the ALADS campaign endorsement money to the candidate of their choice, despite last week’s decision by the union’s Political Endorsement Committee. When it comes to endorsements, the board makes the final decision.